Five Things I Learnt From Working With SME

power2sme-display-picI joined a Start Up SME company on 3rd of January 2014, and this SME was established in Oct 20
13, so it was only two months old. I joined as the acting manager of the company, but the main position was a project coordinator. And as MBA holder, I started working in the company as an organization developer, established the finance procedures, HR procedures and daily procedures in operation management.

From the last two years and Half, I have come into the following conclusion:

1- Start up with less Over Head in the first year.

Sometimes the company start up on a guaranteed project, so there will be a cash in flow, but it will be very limited. And most of the time, the company start with no project, it starts with an idea, and then push this idea to clients, and in this case, there is no cash in flow. So the best practices in such a case is to reduce the overhead.

Reducing the Overhead can be achieved by not getting computers in the first period of the company, let the employee bring his own laptop, I brought my laptop for one and a half year until I felt that it is possible to get a decent one by the company. For every employee the company hire, a desk should be procured not before. The justification is that maybe the company bought few desks and then it didn’t hire, so that is a waste investment.

2- SOP.s makes it complicated.

A start up company requires a lot of fast decisions by limited number of employees, and Standard Operation Procedures can make things more complicated and requires a lot of steps that are necessary, but not in the start up phase.

Waiting to work for at least one year, and then have a look at the practices that the company is already doing, setting with the employees and seeing how the things are being done, then build a flexible SOP.s that is tailored as per the practices, and can make procedures flow very smooth.

3- Having recruiting plan before the start up.

Yes ! Set a recruiting plan, a timeline and a budget to it, you can’t understand what I mean ? Okay note this down:

  • My company will have in total X number of employees in the startup phase, then I will add X employees every year until I reach X number of employees in total.
  • My first year budget for employees is $X second year $X and third year ix $X

This will prevent you from hiring more people that you need, and maybe you will not be able to pay them their salaries from the company income, therefore, having a good recruiting plan will safe a lot of unneeded cost (for the time being), until you reach the point that you see that you are able to cover new employees.

4- Get a Joker.

joker-playing-card-3252682Even though having a joke teller in the company will reduce the pressure and add some atmosphere to the it, but this is not what i mean, A joker is a person who can fit in any position, has the ability to learn fast, and already has a lot of skills such as IT skills, writing skills, speaking and presenting skills, accounting skills and any soft skill you can think about.

This Joker will be able to get the best and cheapest solutions for the company, for example: setting a free share folder system like Dropbox, and using it in the best way, having internal documenting system, fixing a plug, running a machine, interviewing people, meeting with client, thinking about the future, able to handle many thing at the same time, and this will cut cost of hiring other employees (temporary, at least for the first year). So whenever you feel that you have a shortage in a position, you can trust that this joker can fill the position (at least cover 80% of the position requirements) .

5- When it grows, you grow.

This point is directed to the employees who are afraid of being in a start up company, or they are already employees there, but feeling nervous about their future. You are between few employees, I believe a start up company can has its founder, one admin, and two other specialized employees, and according to the nature of the company, maybe few labors or personnel. So imagine you stay in it for five years, and the company has after five years 20 employees, believe me if you started as the only admin, you will be the head of admin department. If you started as an accountant, you will be head of finance and accounting department. You are noticeable, any achievement in the start up phase is under your only name,  and you are the only one in that position who is by default qualified to be promoted. And as one of the shareholders in the SME I work at always says to the employees “Hang in there”, I tell you employee fellow , “hang in there for two years, didn’t see any improvement in the horizon, look for another job”.

 

Good luck for any entrepreneur who got the courage to leave his fixed job and start up a new company, deliver a new idea and give a good motivation to other fixed job employees who are thinking of opening new companies.

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Staying My Grounds

It is important sometimes to stay my ground, focus on what is going on and observe every single element around me to know what is beneficial and what is neutral, what is bad and what is the worst.

I’m staying my grounds,  and noticing that a lot of the things that I was considering very important to me are actually not ! … yes believe me when I say, You need to reevaluate your surroundings, the people you deal with frequently, and the family members that are close to you. And my friend, you will be shocked from the number of people you are welling to eliminate, I’m not saying they are bad, but I’m saying that at one point of your life, you needed being with them, at another point, you don’t ! Actually they might pull you back and stop you from growing and keeping your path.

I know a bunch of people, friends if you well, who didn’t walk one step forward for the last 7 years, they talk about the same subjects, do the same things, always depressed, always not welling to do anything new. These people should be far from you because you will not be able to take them with you, but they might be able to pull you back and make you set down, hold a cigarette and play with your phone !

Staying my ground in such up and down period of my life while I’m evaluating and taking decisions is the best solution to keep myself safe, stable and able to handle all the changes.

It is not easy, it might be wrong sometimes, but this is what I’m doing currently, and may god be with us all.

Working in The Whatsapp Era

Notification phobia is a phobia that will always makes you want to check the notification you received on your phone, and making you feel that you are obligated to check and reply to that notification. this is what most of the people who has smart phones have, and you can check that by sending a whatsapp message to anyone, and see how long it will take before him/ her reading the message and replying to it !

Even before, replying to the message was was not obligated by the receiver, but now with having the “read” or “seen” signs with documented timings made the receiver obligated to reply !

Some managers use this phobia to their advantages, and send request and orders outside the working timings to their employees knowing that the employee will start loosing focus on what he is doing, and reply to his manager with the answer required ! and this is not a big problem, the big problem is to have your manager on a business trip, in a different timing area, on a weekend or a national holiday, and that manager start sending you requests and questions, and asking for infos and other details that it will require you to do some analyses and tests before replying !

imagine what will a notification phobia person will do ? of course he will be so worried not to reply !

so a suggestion from my side to anyone who might face such a problem, if you can , just switch off your phone, put it on flight mode, or agree with your manager not to do this anymore !

Why Do They Want to Choose You?

Living in a very competitive labor market is very hard these days, specially if you are looking for a new job, opportunity or a short term outsourced project to do on a side of your permanent job. It is too hard to get an interview, and it is much harder to be called for a follow up interview or at least to discuss your requirements as an employee with the expected salary amount that you will write down, and then they will offer half of it.

this case is not only for employees, it is also for instructors in many fields (soft skills instructors, Scuba Diving instructors, Yoga, body building, Dancing ….etc) … also for artists, signers, musicians, youtubers, podcasters  every skill has a huge competition these days and it is too damn hard to get between them.

So the question is Why the employer should choose you ? 

the Answer is (differ yourself from your competitors) and it comes in stages:

  • Be a professional in your field

The first step is to be a professional in your field, cover every information in the field that you want, reach the level that if anyone asked you any question, you are ready to answer and ready to give extra information, because if you couldn’t answer, then you don’t know ! .. expect any question and be ready for stupid comments on your answer from people who like to ask only, deal with them in a professional way to reflect to the people that you are the man.

but this is not enough, because there is always others who know more than you, or know what you know exactly, but congratulation, you reach the level of being in this group of people who are 20% of the people in your field.

  • Start talking

After having the confident that you know what 80% of people don’t know, start talking about what you know, a man told me one time “I should not be down to earth, i should show that I’m equal to them in this particular field, no I’m better than you, I’m unique, because I can do something I cannot do, always say this to everyone, but only say it if it is about the field you are professional in” … and I believe in this, because every person is a potential employer for you, if this potential employer didn’t see that you are proud of what you have, and you always talk about it, then you will not be any close to the potential employment you will get.

  • Be Up to Date

This is the point that can really make you unique from others, specially from older people who have more experience but more duties to do that they are not free to follow the updated practices about the profession and the field you are in. Let’s assume that you are a Videographer, always follow what new softwares, techniques, and gears are produced, because if you do, now you are a head step of people who are now working on a project and can’t find the time to sleep.

  • Participate in the discussions

Because you will start to be known in the field, start a discussion about the topics that are related to what you know, give your personal opinions and ask for other’s opinions. As a photographer hobbyist, I was able to learn new things from kids, talking about things that I didn’t know from their point of view, and it helped me a lot in my hobby.

  • Create your name

Now you are ready, ready to create a new thing in the field, something that will make your name well known in the field you are in. For example, if you are a professional career trainer, a content that is unique, for a need that is very hard, that will make everyone connect you to that need. Be unique in your designs, the way you give the information, that way you wear your clothes, how you talk, how you listen, the things that you do in daily bases, the things you eat, the way you smile, the way you laugh, and in any thing that is related to the field, and this will make you unique.

Being Unique in your field will get to you more work, and more headache, the positive and the negative. That will force you to know how to deal with bad moments, and bad comments, and will teach you how to change the negative into a positive to work on yourself more, because remember, people don’t like change, and don’t accept the uniqueness from the first time.

Add this to your career path, and put an effort on marketing yourself, and that will make you see the answer of (why they want to choose me?)

Home Country

I was born and lived all my life in a country, but I’m from another one. I visit my home country every year, sometimes I do short visits every six months just to visit my family and see my relatives.. Also to remember the old days when I used to get to the country for three continues months to spend the summer vacation in it.

In the last seven visits, I noticed that most of people here in my home country are not willing to improve their live style, not to get into new stuff, and not welling to read (at least) anything !!    Their primary thought is where to spend their weekend, and in which cafe to spend their night ! .. the subjects that they talk about is only about other people, and nothing to get benefit of !

It is too hard to leave the country for one full year, come back to home country and listen to the same subject they talk about !! it is really hard to see that the world is moving forward and they are setting still, and for real, setting still is actually moving backward !

every visit, I have high expectation that we are going to have a lot of fun, be close to the relatives, and every visit reality is too lower than my expectation, and I always say “next time, I’m going to lower my expectation more and more”

I don’t have anything to say, but hoping that next visit will be better, and feel that the country is developing and moving to a better place.

The Art of Meetings

This is a fact not an opinion, everyone knows what I’m talking about !

being active all day, and then you receive a meeting invitation, you attend it and you spend four hours of doing nothing, but listening to the meaningless statistics, the unbelievable reasons and the unrealistic solutions that everyone will put and discuss just to cover the meeting timing !

let’s get back a little and start by telling exactly what is happening with me,..

We have a huge client that we have three huge contacts with them. As a result, I need to have frequent meetings with the procurement department and their production team to solve the issues we both face, and to give better solutions for everything. I know that it is reasonable, and it is, but to the point where these meetings are too frequent that when we have them, we just don’t have anything new to give, only to follow the updates and that is normal too…

My problem starts with having a meeting with large number of people, and having from our side also a large number of people and has nothing to talk about only one subject that was solved at the first 10 minutes of the meeting !.. then the unnecessary subjects will open just to fill the meeting timing, and to show that we care  ! and all of that time is a waste for us and for them because WE HAVE SOMETHING BETTER TO DO !

Yeah Yeah I know … stating a problem without giving the solution is basically whining like a small girl over not wanting to go to school while she is in the morning bus heading to school ! (a wonderful picture)

My solutions are the followings:

Short frequent meetings

Assign 50% of the last meeting timing for the next meeting, and check the results. Believe me, the meeting participants will feel more active, gives the direct executive summary of all the required agenda, and there will be not too much time to waste.

Stand up meetings

for how long your team leader, boss or CEO can stand up ?  I don’t believe more than 10 minutes, so make a standing up meeting corner for internal frequent meetings not to waste time, and to be more active other than sleepy and lazy in the meeting.

Send the meeting agenda before the meeting

maybe by sending the agenda, the participates will prepare a follow up agenda and send it back, and that might reschedule the meeting, and by that, the meeting will not be wasteful, and serious  solutions will be given because everyone will do their homework before attending the meeting.

Target the right participants

don’t invite for a meeting someone who is not related to the subject, like a technical engineer for a purchase order discussion, or a sales manager to technical support problem! , because if you do, believe me the unrelated person will live in his own dreams all the meeting period

Charge your mobile.

Because if neither of the above was done, you will need your phone charged to waste your time while your boss is giving fake picture about the company you are working with.

good luck.

Not Interested in Your Hobby

collecting-hobby-icon-set-17981658For a long time, I felt that I’m alone, because I’m the kind of a person who like to have people around me, do whatever I like to do… But I wasn’t success in this.

I always used to try to convince my friends to join me with at least one of the activities I do, especially when I started Scuba Diving, I wanted my friends to experience the amazing experience i’m having, and also to have a company with me on the long road trips I used to do to reach a diving resort/center, but also it was an unsuccessful try.

Also when I started flying RC planes, noone even wants to go and watch, at least watch man,, NO ! …. so what I’m trying to say is the following:

It doesn’t matter if they are your friends, they might not be interested !

You might be totally into a hobby or a thingy you have, and you will feel that everyone around you should be interested and willing to listen to what you are telling about it, but NOT REALLY! … try once, if they didn’t ask you about it again, don’t mention it because they are bored of what you told them about the last time ! (even if you posted a video of yourself on instagram or youtube practicing, they might not even LIKE it !…. believe me ! a double click on the pic is too much for them if they don’t like it)

Create a group for each hobby.

You might have many interests and hobbies, you might like to wall climb, taste chocolate and play cards…
you might like to scuba dive, RC planes, road trips and photography (like myself) …..    so now I have a group of people (no need to be friends, but some of them will be in the future), and there is no need for them to know each others, RC pilots are your RC planes friends. I know it will be better if some of them do other hobbies with you, but it is so damn hard to merge between them.

Networking.

It is easier these days, to feel that you are not alone, and to feel that you are practicing your hobbies, specially when it is long time that you were super busy with your career or home duties that you are not able to get five hours for yourself to play cards, watch a movie or even visit cafe for a cup cake.

Unleash the Salesman inside you.

if you still not convinced and still want your friends to join you, try to sell your hobby to them a a product, not pushing it to their faces, but use the right marketing tools and marketing mix to attract them to it, if you have a friend who has low budget, don’t tell him the price !   if one of your friends doesn’t like long distances , don’t start with the place of your hobby, specially if it is far… but use the close places that you practice one of the hobbies you have.

The final option.

If you tried and tried and no one was interested, look at their hobbies and practice it with them, motivate them to do it in other places, other ways. And then wish that they like you more, and they want to get into your hobby zone.

The first day at School

The first step for the future 14 years + college has been started for my little girl, .. I still remember how she came out of the delivery room with open eyes, looking around the new world she has entered to !
I still remember the first time I changed her diaper, the first time she throw up all over my face and hair, as if she came out yesterday… no not yesterday, the day before … because yesterday my daughter has started the first in Kinder Garden the first KG01….

She is the one who whenever speaks, I feel weird as I’m still not able to realize that she is able to speak…

she is the one who gives funny comments on stuff that her mother and I wouldn’t even notice …

She is the one who I pray all day all nights that I can provide her a great life for a great future Inshalla..

the first step to this life wasn’t yesterday, it was the day she entered this world, and I’m sure that she will change it inshalla to a better place..

The Other Side Of The Screen Is My World

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The other side of the screen is the world I want to live in, the other side of the computer screen is the world that I find myself in.

Since I was young, I had many ideas, and tried a lot of them, I have created a podcast website (msn space) before podcasts were there, and created a website (www.sawwarna.com) which I literately thought about its layout while I was sleeping. But life on internet and by internet has changed dramatically, and every three to four months, a new thing appears.

To start a fan base, and to deliver a content to this fan base, I have to focus on few social media platforms, but cover all the platforms to be able to attract larger number of followers, subscribers and readers.

we have very powerful tools to share to the world, but each tool has followers with different demographics, and a calendar of posts, quotes, updates and creation should not only determine the social media platform and the timing, also it should determine the type of content it should have, to whom it is directed, and what kind of marketing it requires .

all of these thoughts of mine are still not connected together, but I promise that I’m going to connect them together soon, specially with the different activities and posts types I do.

for the time being … I’m semi active on instagram, twitter, linkedinwordpress, and youtube… but I will try to cover snapchat, and facebook again.

the subjects that I’m welling to cover:

I’m hoping for the best, because I know and I’m very sure that my life will go for the best if I started doing what I really like and what I really want to be doing… an entrepreneur through the internet, I have other contact with a business model that I’m creating that will be a new thing insha’allah.

currently, follow me on:

instagram.com/abelhijazi

twitter.com/abelhijazi

youtube.com/abelhijazi

When not to be promoted ?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAFuAAAAJDNlZDhhMGEzLWFkMmMtNGNlMS1iNmIxLWM4ZjcyMTE3NTZjZAAs per any employee, everyone work hard, try to prove himself just to reach the point, that after the performance appraisal happens, he or she receive the latter to tell that ( according to your results in the past year, we are glad to promote you to be a team leader, a manager, a senior manager, a plant manager,…) what ever the next grade is.

Well, a promotion is not positive in all cases … and also not positive in most cases (in certain dimensions). Imagine Ahmad, an employee who works in a multinational organization, where he works in a cubical desk, with three other co-workers who worked there for the past 7 years, and he was there for only 6 months. The higher level managers liked him for his personality, sent a memo to his team (we need new blood, so Ahmad now is the head of the team). Do you think Ahmad will be effective ? will he be respected with the more experienced co-workers ? even if his salary is less, but he is in charge! he is promoted a negative promotion.

Imagine another Ahmad, who works in a very small manufacturing company. He is not an engineer, just a marketing manager with MBA certificate, and there is two other engineers who are handling all the operations. Ahmad received a letter from the owner of the company that (you are the manager of the company, you are 100% authorized to do anything, as if you are the owner). Well !!!!! this is a very negative promotion. A marketing person will never be able to know how to manage two engineers and other labors. Also if the engineers reported to him, he will never fully understand the reports, so in case of an emergency, in case of fast decisions, and also in the process of decision making, he will not give the accurate, most efficient decision to make the work flow smooth.

I know that every one want to be promoted, but also another point is there.
A promotion for a non qualified employee, will make this employee over qualified after he start looking for another job opportunities. maybe as an experience, he will not have the high experience, but as a position, he will be over qualified, and recruiters will just “skip” his application. Exactly like a zero experience person who runs for a MBA… (we liked your Resume, but we are sorry to tell you that you are over qualified, we will archive your application for future usages, which you all the luck).